Medal drought hits local boxers

Neo Masanako
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
Botswana’s boxer Aratwa Kasemang (red) lost to Troy Garton of New Zealand in the Women’s 60KG quarterfinal during the Gold Coast 2018 commonwealth Games in Australia.  				PIC: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/ PRESS PHOTO Botswana’s boxer Aratwa Kasemang (red) lost to Troy Garton of New Zealand in the Women’s 60KG quarterfinal during the Gold Coast 2018 commonwealth Games in Australia. PIC: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/ PRESS PHOTO

BOXING

International medal drought continues to haunt the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) after all the local boxers competing at the ongoing 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia crashed out in the preliminary stages. One of the favourites medal hopes Rajab Mahommed (52kg) was defeated by Brendan Irvine of Northern Island in the men’s 52kg quarter -final this week.

Mahommed came into the fight as the last medal hope for the local boxing team after three female boxers were defeated in the first round. The boxing team consisted of Lethabo Modukanele (48kg), Keamogetse Kenosi (57kg) and Aratwa Kasemang (60kg).

The last time a local boxer brought home a medal at the Commonwealth Games was 2010 in Delhi, India courtesy of Oteng Oteng (-52kg) and Tirafalo Seoko (-56kg). Seoko had won a silver while Oteng brought home a bronze medal. In 2014, BoBA sent five boxers to Glasgow, Scotland and all of them could not advance to the Semi- finals.  This year, the team returns home empty handed once again. BoBA will now have to wait until the 2020 Olympic and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

According to boxing national team coach Lechedzani Luza, the boxers were brave and fought through nagging injuries. In a brief interview with BG Sports, Luza said local boxers need international exposure because they have few world class competitions. 

“If we had an international league arrangement like athletics for example we would achieve big things,” Luza said. The former national team boxers said there is no consistency in the national team. Luza said it would be beneficial if boxers can get exposure from major competitions.   Moreover, Luza said BoBA did well by sending the highest number of women boxers to the Commonwealth Games. According to the coach, this will go a long way in ensuring that women take boxing seriously and take up the sport.

Undoubtedly, boxing was one of the strong medal prospects at the ongoing games. The sports codes were expected to contribute to the medal tally set by the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC).  Team Botswana was given an eight-medal target. However, with only a few days left before the games conclude, Botswana has only secured three medals (two gold and one Silver) courtesy of 400m runners Isaac Makwala, Amantle Montsho and Baboloki Thebe.   

 Now with the Boxing team having bowed out earlier than expected, chances of achieving the eight medals target are getting slimmer after local swimmer Naomi Ruele failed to secure a medal at the competition. The last remaining international medal hope is 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Nijel Amos. The men’s and women 4x4 relay team also has the potential to register the first ever team medal at the games.  

On the men’s relay team, Coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe and Justice Dipeba have Onkabetse Nkobolo, Leaname Maotonong, Karabo Sibanda, Amos, Thebe and Makwala.

The ladies side has Christine Botlogetswe, Montsho, Loungo Matlhaku Gaefele Moroko and Goitseone Seleka. The ladies relay team goes into the competition without the experienced Lydia Jele who is still suspended pending her alleged doping scandal.

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